In a time of year that is characterized by tradition and folk stories, most recently taking the form of horror films and haunted houses, many are prepared to be scared, as were the guests of Zombicon in Fort Meyers, Florida on October 17.
In a crowd of about 20,000 people, all dressed in ripped clothing and covered in faux blood, shots rang out. News sources report that one person, Expavious Taylor, 22, was fatally shot and killed in the incident with four others injured.
According to CNN, some individuals mistook the gunshots for theatrics.
Panic ensued with it became difficult to distinguish the injured from the merely disguised. This has in turn also made it difficult for police to get a clear description of the perpetrator of the crimes. There, however, was an abundance of witnesses, with there being multiple recordings of the events as well.
The FBI was called in to accompany the search for the attacker. At this time no suspects have been identified, according to CNN.
The annual event is a charitable gathering of Florida natives and guests from surrounding states and has grown in popularity.
This was a tragic disruption to a philanthropic event. The charity that benefits from the festival is Pushing Daizies, an organization that supports music in schools and the local community.
The schedule of the festivities included several activities such as a beauty show and music concerts.
The theme this year was “Fallout: 1985” with the streets taking on the imagery of a post-apocalyptic world.
Zombicon was set to be an exciting event, ending shortly around 20 minutes in, when the shots were fired.
Though people go to haunted houses and corn mazes to be scared, there is an unspoken contract that the horrors that one will face in the night won’t be real. In this particular case, the horror was very real. The blood wasn’t fake and the screams and pushing of the crowd wasn’t to elicit shock, but rather for survival.
In the town of Fort Collins, there have been calls to eliminate costumes from the ongoing festivities, a quality very central to the holiday itself, yet with the difficulties this crime brought, it is a reasonable reaction. Many are questioning if this has changed the dynamics of Halloween as a whole, with this unspoken trust being broken.
The celebrations lose their appeal when the lines between horror and reality become blurred and the things that were once used to fuel adrenaline become weapons of destruction.